Vacation fun: Pack, clean, leave

School’s out, long summer days are finally here, construction crews line the roadways, and airline promotions abound. It’s time to hit the road — summer vacation is here!


As you’re preparing for your summer adventures abroad, be sure to heed these important rules of packing:

• Don’t take more than you can carry. This is a hard one. But it all comes down to the definition of “carry.” If by “carry,” you actually mean lifting something and transporting it to another location (using only your own brute strength), then your options are admittedly limited. But if the word “carry” can encompass piling some things onto a wheeled cart and coercing someone else to push the cart for you, a world of possibilities opens up.

• Put something distinctive on the outside of your suitcase so you won’t mix it up with the hundreds of other pink camouflage cases out there. Please note: this is not an invitation for you to paint a bull’s eye with your math teacher’s (or your boss’s) face at the center. Politeness notwithstanding, painting a bull’s eye on your luggage can only hurt yourself. Where do you think the dart is going to end up, anyway?

• Don’t forget to pack a list of all the people you’ve ever met who need to receive a postcard from you. Email won’t cut it. Forget the 37 pictures you posted on Facebook detailing your first night of vacation, which showed your hotel bed, the filet mignon you had for dinner, and the sunset over the palm trees on the beach with your toes in the foreground. None of that counts. You have to send a postcard.

As you’re getting ready to leave town, you need to be sure to prepare for the “What-Ifs”:

• What if the power goes out? Who cares, you might say, no one’s home so we won’t miss the lights. But what about your freezer? What if the power goes out and the salmon in your freezer thaws out to an odiferous mess, and then the power comes back on and it all freezes again? Then you get home, thinking its fine to eat, and serve it at a dinner party and all your guests get botulism. It could happen. Instead, you better eat down your frozen stores, even if they’ve been doing just fine in the freezer for the past four months. You never know — the power could actually go out.

• What if there’s a super-sunny summer at home, but you’re on vacation and you miss it? What a drag! You can’t control the weather, unless you’re a meteorologist, and then you supposedly have godlike powers to influence the weather and guarantee sunshine on demand. In that case, just arrange for a lackluster summer at home so you can gloat over the fabulous sunshine you lapped up on your vacation. For the rest of us mortals, a word of advice: be sure to mow the grass before you leave. Even though the grass has survived the past few months with nary a clipping, you must spend your final hours at home toiling in the yard to make it presentable during your absence.

Then there’s the seemingly endless array of What-Ifs that are all solved by the simple expedient of cleaning your house before you leave:

• What if your Aunt Martha comes to Juneau on a cruise ship, underestimates the time it takes to hike the West Glacier trail and misses her ship, and then needs a place to stay overnight? Luckily, you cleaned your house before you left!

• What if your house catches on fire and the firefighters have to come inside to put out the blaze. It’s a small town — you might know one of them. Wouldn’t want them to get the wrong impression from your slovenly kitchen or unkempt bedroom. Good thing you made your bed before you left!

• What if your faucet drips the whole time you’re gone, and your apartment slowly floods and spills down into the unit below you, and your landlord has to go in to turn off the water and sop up the mess? You know he’ll charge you for cleaning up the floodwaters, but you definitely don’t want him to notice a scummy sink or sour bath towels. That extra cleaning in the bathroom before your trip sure paid off!

True, it’s a nuisance to take the extra time when you’re focused on packing and dashing off to the airport, but leaving behind a clean and orderly house is key to a worry-free vacation. You can relax on the beach, serene in the knowledge that you’ve prepared for all the What-Ifs.

Bon voyage!

• Peggy McKee Barnhill is a wife, mother and aspiring author living in Juneau. She likes to look at the bright side of life.


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